Woman Finds 4-Foot Snake Just Relaxing In Her Laundry Room

A Flushing, Ohio, woman got an unpleasant surprise when she walked into her laundry room on Saturday. No, it wasn't that the machines were broken down or already being used—it was a large rat snake occupying the shelf above a washing machine.

Responding to a call from the unnamed woman, Tom DeVaul of the Belmont County Sheriff's Office attempted to remove the four-foot snake but found, according to a Facebook post memorializing the incident, he was only able to reach about "an inch of his head to get a hold of."

BCSO's Sgt. DeVaul got a call from a woman in Flushing who discovered a large snake on the laundry shelf above her...

Posted by Belmont County Sheriff's Office on Saturday, June 27, 2020

DeVaul called in assistance from two Belmont County Sheriff's deputies, Jack Sall and Elizabeth Dobrich, who specialize in snake and reptile incidents. Together the trio, members of the Sheriff's Office's Dangerous Wild Animal Response Team, captured the rat snake and released it back into the wild "a few miles down the road."

In response to a request for comment, Belmont County Sheriff's Office provided Newsweek with the call record for the animal complaint, confirming details released to a local news program.

Located in eastern Ohio, Belmont County is on the state's border with West Virginia. The snake was found in Flushing, a village of fewer than a thousand people at time of the 2010 census and home to a museum commemorating the Underground Railroad that aided in the escape of enslaved Black people from southern states.

While relatively large snakes for the region, rat snakes are considered harmless to humans and are nonvenomous. Members of the Colubrinae subfamily—a large grouping including king snakes, milk snakes and indigo snakes—rat snakes are constrictors that kill rodent and bird prey by squeezing them until the loss of blood flow to their heart and brain cause unconsciousness and death.

A hamster and a rat snake (a different species from the black rat snakes of Ohio) hang out in an animal park in Tokyo, Japan. the master, named "Gohan," or "meal," was fed to the snake Aochan, but the snake befriended the hamster instead. Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

The black rat snake species Pantherophis obsoletus is the largest snake found in Ohio, with a maximum length of eight feet. It is one of about 33 species of snake found in the state. Native to most of Ohio, the black rat snake is known for its climbing ability, which may help explain how one found itself high up on a laundry shelf.

Although it's considered a beneficial species for its ability to keep rodent populations in check, the black rat snake is also the most commonly killed species of snake in the state, because of its large size and habitat proximity to humans.

The Sheriff's Office in the largely agricultural and forested Belmont County is no stranger to animal calls. On Saturday, a black bear was also spotted in the area, this time near the county seat of St. Clairsville, prompting a warning to local residents.